Leena Farhat on the Welsh language, racism and the need for diversity

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We talk a lot about tackling racism, but little is done realistically here in Wales, let alone in Welsh speaking environments.

I am proud of the position I hold at The National, what I stand for, as well as the boundaries I seek to push on behalf of this Welsh news source.

I recently had a conversation with someone who had read my articles and how we need to talk more about racism in Wales. The emotion with which he spoke of his experiences struck me and reminded me of not only my privilege, but also my cause.

I want to build a Wales where I can be sure people will not be racially discriminated against and while the Labor-Plaid administration is ready to stand idly by, I and those who face racism on a daily basis are tired .

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I remember as a young child I found it hard to understand why I would be penalized for taking a day off from school for Eid Al Fitr, but that a day off for Christmas was An evidence. I never really thought about it. I used to help out at a Welsh language school but left due to cultural issues. For example, I was asked to give a talk on Diwali and I was the only one who was invited. I love the festival and know a lot about it, but I am not a practicing Hindu and I was not raised a Hindu. My parents are Muslims but coming to school in a kameez in rural Wales there was a lack of cultural awareness. If the staff are not aware, what chance will the children who attend school have?

I have spoken to a number of people who have struggled against racism in Welsh language schools. From people who don’t care what language they speak to people who despise them because their parents are from abroad.

Barry’s people for a Black Lives Matter protest in June 2020. Photo: Huw Evans Picture Agency

We should celebrate diversity in all languages ​​and there is a culture that with Welsh being a minority discrimination cannot occur in Welsh speaking contexts. We need to think about the impact this will have on our children. Many end up being embarrassed by their 3rd language, requesting different foods in their lunch box, and no longer wanting to engage with the non-British parts of their heritage.

We know there is an urgent need to improve representation in Welsh literature as well as on Welsh television programs.

For example, S4C is looking for two children to play Deian a Loli. It would be a great opportunity to diversify who is on S4C, but I won’t be holding my breath for a good result on this.

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“In a Welsh speaking world we are all supposed to be Welsh, but what if we are not?

We also know that there is a shortage of ethnic minority teachers in Wales, especially in Welsh middle schools. Even in the extracurricular sphere, how many people of color work for the Urdd or the Eisteddfod Genedlaethol? Mistar Urdd came to Cardiff Bay and there were not many, if any, children from ethnic minorities to see. Where is the diversity of Welsh role models for the next generation?

To those who say they can look for role models internationally, I agree. However, it can have an impact on a child. If they only see white role models in the Welsh world, they will feel even more different no matter how many times people tell them Wales is their home.

It is a time when I see that the children are suffering the most. With the uncertainty of education during Covid, as well as a new agenda for Wales, we are at an important crossroads that we need to make the most of.

As adults we need to make the changes necessary to ensure that our young Welsh speakers see a diverse Wales. For this to happen, we need to be bold and actively legislate for our children, which the Labor-Plaid Dual Law has not even started to do.

Only then will they become citizens of the world and perfect their goal in Welsh.

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